All Aboard for the ‘Merch Store’ Express

Another aspect of the digital campaign fundraising arm is what has now become known as a ‘Merch Store,’ or an online campaign merchandise store.

For some candidates, gone are the days of handing out combs, fingernail files and bumper stickers with their logos for free to supporters and potential voters. Instead, some candidates choose to open a merchandising operation, said Suffolk University Professor Ken Cosgrove. That action goes hand-in-hand with the digital fundraising e-mails. He said when people give their money, and are encouraged with a tailored story, they will often want to buy something to support that action afterward.

Therein lies the magic fundraising capabilities of the ‘Merch Store.’

“It’s smart because you turn people into your mobilized ad force and they pay you to do it,” he said. “That’s something that Trump brought to politics with his red hats. It took a professional marketer and salesman like him to bring that to politics, but it’s here. It’s no different than the Bruins or Red Sox gear people wear around. It doesn’t cost much to make this stuff and you can make a good chunk of change selling it. In a race with this many candidates, building brand recognition matters.”

To this point, Councilor Wu has opened a Merch Store, using the familiar purple colors with ‘Wu!’ emblazoned on the materials for sale.

Acting Mayor Janey has one of the more robust Merch Stores, with her purple and dark yellow colors on T-Shirts, hats, stickers and more. She has even premiered a T-Shirt in her colors that says, ‘Madame Mayor.’

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